FORT HOOD, Texas Aca,!" ItAca,!a,,cs been seven years since Aca,!A"GreywolfAca,!A? troopers have tested themselves to earn the Expert InfantrymanAca,!a,,cs Badge.

For those that accepted the challenge, the long wait for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is finally over.

Infantry and Special Forces have long coveted the time-honored badge upon successful completion of an extensive week-long test.

Aca,!A"The EIB was established in 1943 to encourage esprit de corps among the infantry branch,Aca,!A? said Command Sgt. Maj. James Pippin, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Aca,!A"Because of that, the EIB is a significant part of the history for the United States Army Infantryman. ItAca,!a,,cs important that our young generation of infantrymen realize the significance of the EIB.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"The EIB has evolved through the years,Aca,!A? Pippin said. Aca,!A"I believe the concept that was established by Ft. Benning (Georgia) last year is far and away the best IAca,!a,,cve seen in my career.Aca,!A?

The Ft. Benning EIB committee mandates tasks for the test, but gives the host unit the latitude to select other tasks to include in their own test.

Aca,!A"This flexibility allows us to select tasks that tailor our training toward specific combat missions,Aca,!A? Pippin said.

Soldiers at Fort Hood completed four lanes; day and night land navigation, traffic control point, patrol and urban environment. Each lane had a series of sub-tasks for the candidates to accomplish in the allotted time. They also had to score 75 percent in their age group on an Army Physical Fitness Test and complete a 12-mile foot march with 35 pounds of equipment in three hours or less.

The land navigation site spanned six square miles with countless checkpoints scattered throughout. The candidates were required to find four assigned points in two hours using a compass, map and protractor.

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the candidates started the land navigation test again. With the same equipment and time requirement, but without any light, often the men had to trust their equipment.

Aca,!A"Night land navigation is more difficult because we have limited visibility. During the day you can terrain associate but at night you canAca,!a,,ct,Aca,!A? said Sgt. Luke Lowery, a team leader with 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. Aca,!A"You have to rely more on your equipment because of that.Aca,!A?

At the traffic control point lane, Soldiers had 25 minutes to complete tasks like setting the head space and timing of a .50 caliber machine gun, identifying terrain features on a map and searching a suspected hostile enemy combatant.

Aca,!A"I was more nervous because it was our last lane. I wasnAca,!a,,ct as comfortable on the .50 cal. as the other ones that made that lane the second hardest of all,Aca,!A? said 1st Lt. Ethraim Garner, from Twin Falls, Idaho, with 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment.

The patrol lane was 150 meters long with tasks that included filling a radio with frequencies and completing a request for indirect fires.

Aca,!A"It was definitely one of the harder lanes. You have to throw the grenade and you donAca,!a,,ct know if itAca,!a,,cs going to hit the mark,Aca,!A? said Spc. Ryan Baurnfeind, from Gilbert, Ariz., with 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment.

There was also an urban movement lane where Soldiers identified an unexploded ordinance, breeched a door using a 12 gauge shotgun and performed combat first aid on a casualty.

Aca,!A"Knowing that you could get a no-go at any time puts a lot of pressure on you,Aca,!A? said Staff Sgt. Freddy Barahona, an Antioch, Calif. native with 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. Aca,!A"You have to have a lot of attention to detail.Aca,!A?

3rd BCT started with 296 candidates. After the physical fitness test, 188 Soldiers were eligible to continue, after day land navigation there were 105 candidates, after night land navigation there were 82, and after the test lanes there were 70.

At the end of the week, the 68 Soldiers that passed all tests, completed the foot march to standard and passed the physical training test were awarded the Expert InfantrymanAca,!a,,cs Badge at a ceremony on Fort Hood in front of their peers.

To add a cavalrymanAca,!a,,cs touch, member of the 1st Cav. Div. Horse Cavalry Detachment delivered badges on horseback to unit command sergeants major and first sergeants who then pinned the badge on Soldiers.

Barahona said he was happy to be able to finally wear the badge.

Aca,!A"This is a long tradition for the infantry,Aca,!A? Barahona said. Aca,!A"ThereAca,!a,,cs a lot of history behind it. IAca,!a,,cm proud that I earned the badge.Aca,!A?